“Love, do good, bless, pray.”
These are the words that really struck me as I prayed with the readings this morning. The theme that I picked up from these readings was love, but love in a very specific context. St. Thomas Aquinas defines love as “to will the good of the other.” Both Jesus and St. Paul talk about living our lives with others in mind. They recognize that it won’t always be easy or convenient.
St. Paul is concerned for the salvation of others. This Scripture passage is where the idea of scandal comes from. It was a common practice to sacrifice to an idol and then eat the sacrificed meat as a way of recognizing that idol. Christians rejected the existence of the power behind those false idols and so would often eat the meat anyway. It’s just meat after all! However, others would see the Christian eating the meat and assume that the Christian believed in the idol. The Christians would then, in effect, be spreading a false Gospel without even realizing it. St. Paul calls us to be mindful of our actions and what they communicate to the outside world.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus then tells us to be mindful of all people. Don’t just love, do good for, bless, and pray for the ones it’s easy to do so for, “but rather, love your enemies and do good to them.” This isn’t just for their sake, but for ours. “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Again, this isn’t easy, but think about it from God’s perspective. We make ourselves enemies of God every time we sin. We reject who He is and we reject His love for us when we choose to sin. And yet, He offers us redemption. More often than not, I’m sure that our intention is not to insult God with our sin, but rather we are trying to get what we want, we’re expressing our negative emotions, or we’re just lonely or tired. Can we be as forgiving to other’s in recognizing they might be in the same boat?
The Magnificat reflection for today included this quote from St. Therese, “When I want to increase in myself my love of neighbor, especially when the devil tries to put before the eyes of my soul the faults of this or that sister who is less appealing to me, I hasten to seek out her virtues, her good desires. I tell myself that if I have seen her fall one times, she may well have undergone a great many victories that she hides through humility, and that even what appears as a fault to me could very well be an act of virtue because of the intention. Ah, I understand now what perfect charity consists of enduring the faults of others, of not being at all astonished at their weaknesses, of being edified by the smallest acts of virtue which one sees them practice.”
Growing in love and charity for others will only increase your ability to love. God is perfect and God is love, so to be perfect is to love perfectly.
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization